By Emma Dixon, Senior Designer FIG
So before we talk about how to build a brand, what exactly is a brand?
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. You can’t control the process, but you can influence it.
(Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap)
Essentially a brand isn’t what you say about yourself it’s what your customers and clients say about you. This is why a brand evolves and grows. It is always shifting and changing and it isn’t fixed. There are many points of contact that clients have with your brand – these can be your offices, décor, graphics, staff, website, messaging, logo, product, graphics, packaging and customer experience. When we get involved with a new client our job is to understand who they think they are but then also to investigate how they come across to the outside world. So this is where we can evaluate all of those points of contact and see where we can influence the end customer to either change their opinion or build on the good brand our client already has.
Often clients think that their logo is their brand. It isn’t. It certainly is a large part of a brand and it can often be the first impression someone has about your company, which is why it is so important. This also means a logo should be handled with care. A logo does not need to embody your entire brand all at once either. Rebranding a company doesn’t always mean changing the logo. Again it’s looking at all the customer touch points and seeing how small shifts can change the perceptions of a company’s brand story or how big changes can rewrite a brand.
Our work with Temperature Electronics Ltd (TEL) is a good example. TEL is an Electronic Airflow Control and Monitor Manufacturer and their brand was held in high regard. They had a healthy market share globally due to the quality of their products and the high level of customer service. Over the years, however they saw increasing marketplace competition and were keen to accelerate their growth. After initially looking at their brand as a whole we knew their outdated website did not reflect this innovative company. We also realised that a more targeted PR approach to promote the benefits of its products to key trade markets would build their brand.
We have enjoyed a long relationship with TEL now and secured editorial coverage across all target media sectors with a total reach of over 3m over the last five years and have generated direct sales leads. It would be fair to say the director of TEL was unsure of the impact that Marketing and PR would have on his brand and thankfully we have now been able to show its importance.
As a designer the startup companies and the ones who are ready to have a complete brand overhaul are the most fun to work on. The real challenge is working with an older, much more established company. It can be a hard conversation when they are emotionally attached to their brand, it might even be that it is a family business and how they perceive themselves doesn’t always match with how a customers sees them. It’s always so interesting to ask a client to describe their company as a car brand and then ask their customers the same question. If they see themselves as a BMW and the client says Ford focus it’s clear that they need some help.
One of our clients who is very aware of changing customer opinion is Northwood Hygiene. We have worked with them for a number of years now and helped them as they’ve grown their portfolio of branded products, which often means helping to reposition and relaunch products into the market place.
Northwood have to move fast to stay on top of changing trends, even in the world of toilet and kitchen roll you have to be one step ahead. We have been able to work with Northwood on their branded B2B products like washroom consumables and then packaging requirements for Whisper and Essentials but we have now supported Northwood Freedom with packaging requirements for their consumer brands Rhino and Hush. We have been there to get products from screen mockups to on the shelf in a very short time scale but we have also been involved with new product launches and long term forecasts where old products are phased out and new products repositioned and made to fit within their portfolio. After working with us on their corporate brand Northwood trusted us to take on their packaging design, which has been very exciting.
Sometimes we work with a client on one project but as our relationship evolves, we get to understand them as a company and as a brand, and we are able to offer advice and guidance in other areas of their business.
Another good example is Healthy Step, they are a designer and manufacturer of insoles, orthotics and footbeds for the foot health care market. While they work with predominantly foot health professionals throughout the NHS and private practice, they did have some consumer products they wanted to brand and bring to market. These were really successful and as our relationship grew they asked us to undertake a full rebrand and digital overhaul. We gathered some enlightening customer insight which informed our thinking on the subsequent rebrand. It was such a nice project to work on and especially having worked on some of their products. It’s especially rewarding to see the positive customer reaction to the new brand and website especially when they had such a positive relationship with the NHS and private practitioners to begin with.
In my time at FIG I have been able to work on a wide range of brands in a number of ways. Being a designer, I get excited about what a brand says to a customer visually. There are people here at FIG who are more at home in crafting words, as you may have guessed by now. I hope this has given some insight in to our process and some food for thought when it comes to brands, whether it is your business or even some of the brands you are loyal to or engage with.
If you’re interested in talking about your brand, simply call us on 01457 857111 or email at [email protected].
If you want to see some interesting videos regarding what is a brand and brand strategy then I could recommend these.